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Start/Bench List - Week 9
John Tuvey
Updated: October 31, 2008
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Sunday Early
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Start/Bench Codes (SBC)
S1: Start 'em Tier One (Stud / Great matchup) U: Upside player (Possible sleeper)
S2: Start 'em Tier Two (Solid matchup) X: Unclear situation / Could go either way
S3: Start 'em Tier Three (Borderline / Barely) B: Bench 'em (Bad Matchup / Too much risk)
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Atlanta (4-3) at Oakland (2-5)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Ryan B

Oakland is playing a lot like last year's league-leading pass defense: only Drew Brees and Jay Cutler have thrown multiple touchdowns against them, and four of the seven QBs they've faced have failed to reach 200 yards. Ryan has endured a three-game stretch against quality opponents in which he averaged better than 250 yards and almost two touchdowns per game, so at minimum there's room for optimism. However, expect Ryan's attempts to be limited by the success of Atlanta's ground game; in other words, the Falcons will view settling for 200 yards and a touchdown as a good thing.

RB Michael Turner

In three matchups with defenses ranked in the top 11 in fantasy points allowed to running backs, Turner is averaging 148 yards per game (at 6.2 yards per carry) and has scored six times. In four matchups with defenses ranked in the bottom 15 in fantasy points allowed to running backs, Turner is averaging 54 yards per game (at 2.6 yards per carry) and has not scored a touchdown. The Raiders rank (drumroll, please)... fifth, which means this one is right in Turner's wheelhouse. Expect him to knock it out of the park with the aplomb of Marshawn Lynch (83 yards and two TDs), LT (106 and 2), and Thomas Jones (159 rushing yards).

RB Jerious Norwood B

Norwood's touches have diminished to the point that he probably won't get enough carries to be worth even a spot start against a defense as soft as the Raiders. The fact that he was limited in practice all week by a concussion doesn't help his cause.

WR Roddy White S3

The Raiders have allowed just one WR TD since Week 3... but it came last week on a 70-yard bomb to Demetrius Williams. White is just as capable of getting behind a defense as Williams, if not more so as evidenced by three straight games with triple-digit yardage and four touchdown grabs in that span. He's an every-week starter, even if Nnamdi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall both cover him. Okay, maybe not both. But still, Roddy's pretty good.


Michael Jenkins
Harry Douglas


Jenkins has topped 50 yards in each of the past two weeks, so... nope, still nothing.

DT Falcons B Oakland has failed to reach the 20-point plateau in its past four games, so the John Abraham-led Atlanta defense might just be serviceable as a bye week plug-in play.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB JaMarcus Russell B

This might be Russell's most favorable matchup since Lane Kiffen was removed from the play-calling process and JaMarcus started throwing more. Each of Atlanta's last four foes has thrown for at least 250 yards, a number Russell has topped only once—not coincidentally, in his first game without the Kiffen restrictor plates. JaMarcus still can't be counted on for more than one touchdown toss a game, so he's still not much of a fantasy helper—but at least he'll go down swinging.

RB Justin Fargas


The Falcons are giving up about 150 yards from scrimmage to running backs, and Fargas is still the go-to guy in this backfield mess. With McFadden's other foot still in a walking boot on Friday, let's be aggressive and trust Huggy Bear's kid to turn 20-plus carries into something worth of an S2 afternoon

RB Darren McFadden
Michael Bush


As noted above, McFadden is now dealing with turf toe on both feet and the newest case was still encased in a walking boot on Friday. He's listed as doubtful, which makes him a bench candidate this week. Bush would see an uptick in his touches but it's tough to see him turning those limited carries into something worthy of fantasy importance.

WR Javon Walker
Chaz Schilens
Ashley Lelie
Johnnie Lee Higgins
B Best game by an Oakland wideout is still Walker's 5-75-1. The Falcons are among the most fantasy-friendly defenses for wide receivers, but unless you get degree-of-difficulty points and want to trot out Chaz Schilens I can't in good conscience recommend any of these guys.
TE Zack Miller S3

Miller has been targeted at least five times in each of the past four games and has produced at least 46 yards in each of those contests. Again, the Falcons offer up a fantasy-friendly defense... and this time I'm willing to take them up on their offer.

DT Raiders B Nothing on Oakland's defense suggests something that warrants fantasy attention.
Philadelphia (4-3) at Seattle (2-5) Back to top
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Donovan McNabb S2

Last year the Seahawks were among the least fantasy-friendly secondaries; what a difference a year makes. This time around Marc Bulger is the only quarterback who hasn't thrown for at least 200 yards or tossed multiple touchdowns—or both. McNabb has bested 250 in three of four and five of seven so he's a solid yardage bet. Westbrook is stealing a few touchdowns, to the point that you shouldn't bank on more than one from The Don. The yardage should more than make up for the lack of scores, though.

RB Brian Westbrook S1

Gotta love a Seahawk defense that's allowing an even 150 combo yards per game to opposing backs. Well, you don't gotta do anything. But if you enjoyed Westy's 209 and two last week, this matchup should at least bring a grin to your face.

WR Kevin Curtis
DeSean Jackson

S3 There should be plenty of yardage against a secondary that's giving up almost 180 wide receiver yards per game. However, WR TDs are at a premium in Philly; they have but three this season, and bit player Hank Baskett has two of them. Don't bank on an Eagle receiver in a TD-heavy league, but both Curtis and Jackson make solid plays in performance leagues.
WR Reggie Brown
Hank Baskett
Jason Avant
B Aside from Baskett's proclivity for scoring—and two in seven games is hardly a true knack—there's little here that won't be done more and better by Curtis and Jackson.
TE L.J. Smith B

Smith sees some red-zone targets but he's only come up with two scores on the year. Worse, he's been ruled out due to a concussion. Brent Celek will get the start, against a Seattle defense that has allowed just one TE TD this year and none since Week One.

DT Eagles S2 Sounds like Seneca Wallace again. Certainly that should bring Philly's D into play, and Jackson's work in the return game makes them an extremely viable fantasy option.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Seneca Wallace B

No Matt Hasselbeck again this week. Last week Wallace was actually adequate, with 222 yards and a couple touchdowns against the 49ers. If he matches those numbers against Philly he'll join Tony Romo and Matt Ryan as the only quarterbacks to do so. Seeing as the Eagles secondary has shut out the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Marc Bulger, and Jason Campbell, I'd file the probability of Wallace falling on the plus side of the 216 and one Philly is allowing to opposing quarterbacks somewhere between Charlie Frye waging a successful write-in campaign for the Pro Bowl and Jessica Biel returning my phone calls.

RB Julius Jones
Maurice Morris


In some cases this would be a great place to wonder why Mo Morris is getting carries, why they don't just let Jones have the job he's been far more effective at this season. However, with just 80 rushing yards and another 35 or so RB receiving yards to split up against a Philly defense that has largely shut down opposing backs, it's hardly worth getting worked up over. Bench 'em both and wait until one emerges with consistent carries.


Bobby Engram
Koren Robinson
Deion Branch
Mike Bumpus
Keary Colbert


Exactly two wide receivers have put up more than 51 yards on the Eagles this year... and no one on the Seahawks roster compares to either Terrell Owens or Roddy White. Seeing as that tandem has also accounted for two-thirds of the WR TDs Philly has surrendered this season, don't bother looking for a score from this group, either.

TE John Carlson

If you're forced to start a member of the Seahawk passing game, at least Carlson has some positivity in his corner. He's scored in two of the past three, and the Eagles have allowed more 100-yard games to tight ends (two) than wide receivers (one). It's still not much to hang your hat on, but if you're in a larger TE-mandatory league you have my permission to make that B an S3.

DT Seahawks B Tough to see a Seattle defense that's allowed 33 or more points three times already doing much of fantasy note against a Philly offense that's scored 37 or more three times already.

New England (5-2) at Indianapolis (3-4)

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New England
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Matt Cassel S3

The restraints get a little looser every week—Cass has 200 or more yards in three of his last four—but now he'll face an Indy secondary that's put the clamps on everyone this year. The list of quarterbacks the Colts have faced isn't that impressive, but the fact that they've allowed only two passing touchdowns all year certainly is. Cassel should finish above the 187 passing yards Indy is allowing on average—but not much. And more than one touchdown toss seems illogical.

RB Kevin Faulk


Rumors of the demise of Indy's run defense appear to have been greatly exaggerated; over the past three games the Colts have held the Ravens, Packers, and Titans to just over three yards a carry. That said, teams have had success running on Indy this year and if Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan both remain out Faulk should see the majority of the touches. He's also better positioned to take advantage of the 40-plus yards of running back receiving yardage Indy allows per game; don't forget, he took a reception to the house in last year's clash of these two squads.

RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis


BJGE didn't see the ball after failing on a pair of short-yardage opportunities last week. He won't get third-down work, and his 1.8 yards-per-carry average doesn't exactly scream out for more opportunities. He could still see goal line work, though Heath Evans looms as well. It may be a little soon to say it's been a nice run for BJGE, but signs are certainly pointing in that direction.

RB LaMont Jordan


As expected, the Patriots released a complete and accurate injury report detailing their squad's injury issues. Okay, they didn't. But they did tell us Jordan practiced on a limited basis and is questionable for this week's contest. It's a Sunday night game, meaning you'll likely need to make your lineup decision before the Pats announce their inactives, so Jordan is too risky to trust this week..

RB Sammy Morris

Morris is listed as doubtful and hasn't practiced all week, so it's unlikely he'll get to share in the workload this week.

WR Randy Moss
Wes Welker
S3 Here's an alphabetical listing of all the wide receivers who have topped 70 yards against Indy this year: Andre Johnson. That's also the complete list of wideouts who have scored against the Colts this year. In other words, I'm not expecting Moss to match the 9-145-1 he dropped on Indy in last year's meeting. Welker, on the other hand, could very well equal the 5-38-1 he posted—though the touchdown might be a stretch. It's virtually impossible to bench either player unless you're absolutely flush with receiver talent, but the matchup is hardly a favorable one. Of course, the week you sit Moss he'll blow up the trends with 130 and two, and Welker is a PPR producer, so lower your expectations and leave 'em in your lineup.
TE Ben Watson


Cassel is far more likely to check down to Faulk or Welker or just chuck it deep to Moss than look Watson's way. And Mike Vrabel is still in the goal line package.

DT Patriots S3 Normally you don't risk starting your defense against Peyton Manning and the Indy offense. But this year's edition has scored more than 21 points just twice, and Manning has thrown nine picks already this year—three of them returned for touchdowns.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Peyton Manning S2

He may not look right, but Manning is still giving fantasy owners their money's worth: he's averaging 250 passing yards per game and has thrown multiple touchdowns in three of the last four games. Of course, he's also thrown multiple interceptions in four of six, but let's focus on the positive. The Patriots secondary appears to be held together with duct tape and baling wire; they've given up three-TD games to Phillip Rivers... and J.T. O'Sullivan, surrendered 300 yards to Rivers... and Marc Bulger, and yet held both Brett Favre and Jay Cutler under 200 yards. Manning should be able to match the 225 and one he posted in last year's meeting, and between his averages and the Pats' banged-up secondary he should push that closer to 250 and two. But that feels like his upside—and when is the last time we even thought that about Manning?

RB Joseph Addai S3

Indy leaned heavily on Addai in last year's meeting—he had 112 rushing yards and 114 receiving—and after practicing fully on Thursday and Friday it looks as though he'll be ready for this tilt. New England's run defense, Wildcat game notwithstanding, has been solid this season in limiting LJ, LT, TJ, and Frank Gore to less than 75 rushing yards. Gore and LT made up some of the difference receiving, and Addai is certainly capable of that. Still, given that Joe may be still pawn off some of the workload to Dominic Rhodes upon his return to action. and this matchup is hardly a gimme, he's no better than a borderline start.

RB Dominic Rhodes B

Rhodes could get bumped up to borderline start if Addai is a late scratch, but he'd bring a little less to the table than the more talented Addai—who is already a borderline play.

WR Reggie Wayne S2 If Donnie Avery and Vincent Jackson can have big games you'd like to think Wayne could do so as well; then again, this secondary held Brandon Marshall without a touchdown. Wayne was the only downfield factor in last year's meeting and has been Manning's primary target in each of the past four games—though he hasn't even made it to 30 yards in either of the last two outings. He's sporting a two-game scoreless stretch, something he hasn't done since Weeks 2 and 3 of last year. So, is he due? Or are the Colts exiting their juggernaut era? I like Wayne's chances of at least a solid game at home, where he's averaging seven catches for 93 yards and has two touchdowns in three games. But as with all of the Colts this year, the expectations bar has been lowered—perhaps further, given that Wayne was limited during Friday's practice by a knee injury.
WR Marvin Harrison
Anthony Gonzalez

S3 The combination of a banged-up New England secondary, a banged-up Joseph Addai (forcing Indy to rely more on the passing game), and a banged-up Reggie Wayne (forcing Peyton Manning to rely more on his secondary receivers) conspire to bump Marv and Gonzo up to S3 status. It's not a strong play; since Week 2 of last season Marv has had exactly two games of fantasy value, and you have to go back to 2006 to find his last triple-digit effort. Gonzo has actually led the Colts in receiving each of the past two games... and his two-game total is a meager nine-for-99. The Patriots are surrendering one WR TD a game, so unless Wayne is ruled out you'll have to rely on yardage to perk up your fantasy numbers here.
TE Dallas Clark S3

With his wideouts struggling, Clark has picked up the slack with 80 or more yards in three of his last four outings. He comes into this game fresh off a two-TD performance against the Titans, and while the Pats aren't a cupcake neither are they blanking tight ends, either. Clark is good to go in TE-mandatory leagues but a bit of a reach in non-TE mandatory setups.

DT Colts B It isn't just the offense that seems to be at the end of the trail; when's the last time Dwight Freeney dominated a left tackle and produced a sack/strip/fumble or two?

Pittsburgh (5-2) at Washington (6-2)

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Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Ben Roethlisberger S3

The Skins have held four straight quarterbacks under 200 yards and on the year are allowing a shade over that number and just one touchdown toss per game. Big Ben, meanwhile, has struggled in two previous meetings with NFC East defenses this season; even if you add the stats Byron Leftwich compiled against Philly while Roethlisberger was out it still averages to 190 yards and just one touchdown in the two games. Aside from the 309-yard, three-TD outing in Jacksonville that's been a pretty typical Big Ben line: 200 and a touch. Tough to be more optimistic than that.

RB Willie Parker S3 Parker practiced fully all week—evidently they filled in the holes in the practice field—and all indications are he'll be back in the lineup this weekend. That's the good news; the bad news is that, given the difficulty of this matchup you may just want to dial up another alternative anyway. Look at it this way: Parker made his early-season hay against two bottom-feeding defense, then laid an egg against a tough opponent and hasn't been heard from since. The Skins, meanwhile, rank 27th in fantasy points allowed to running backs—one spot tougher than the Eagles squad that stymied Fast Willie earlier this year. You've made it this far sans Parker; the better strategy might be to go with Plan B one more week until you've seen Parker and know he's operating at Fast Willie levels.
RB Mewelde Moore B Parker is expected back for this contest, and if you don't want a full share of this matchup you certainly don't want a partial share.
WR Hines Ward


It's hardly a favorable matchup; the Redskins are allowing an average of less than 130 wide receiver yards per game and have given up just seven WR TD in eight games. Those numbers suggest there's enough for one starter, and to date it's been WR1s—Plax, Fitz, TO, Calvin Johnson—who have produced good fantasy games against Washington. All those receivers are physical as well, and Ward is nothing if not physical so if there's anything to be had in this matchup odds are it's going Hines' way.

WR Santonio Holmes
Nate Washington


Holmes returns from his one-game vacation to find Washington has scored in three straight and appears to be replacing Santonio as Big Ben's favorite deep ball target. Makes sense; the third receiver usually draws a nickel corner, who isn't good enough to start and thus more likely to get burned. No matter the semantics, with Holmes and Washington cannibalizing each other's deep looks there doesn't project to be enough to around—especially in a tight matchup like this one.

TE Heath Miller B

Jason Witten is the only tight end with more than 28 yards against the Redskins, and no other opposing tight end has scored on Washington, either. Miller is a nice tight end—but he's no Jason Witten, and he's seeing less than four targets per game.

DT Steelers S3 It might be tough for Blitzburgh to get to a quarterback who gets rid of the ball as quickly as Campbell is doing in Jim Zorn's WCO... but that won't stop them from trying.
Pos Player SBC Comments
QB Jason Campbell B

The best game any quarterback has posted on the Steelers this year is 216 and one—which is right around Campbell's average game of 219 and one. JC might need some YAC to get up over 200 yards, and more than one touchdown toss is extremely unlikely. That makes him either a really bad starter or a really good bench player. I'll make him a bench guy and let you find someone with more upside.

RB Clinton Portis S3 I'm not saying you can't score on the Steelers; after all Correll Buckhalter, Le'Ron McClain, and Maurice Jones-Drew have all done it this year. But given that only two teams have allowed fewer fantasy points to running backs, and that opposing backs have touched the ball 200 times against Pittsburgh and only managed to find the end zone thrice... well, that doesn't bode particularly well for Clinton. Here's one bright note: one of the teams that's allowed fewer fantasy points to backs than Pittsburgh is the Giants, and Portis ran for 84 yards against them. So I'm sayin' there's a chance...
WR Santana Moss B

Lots of cause for concern here. For starters, Moss didn't practice all week and is listed as questionable; this being a Monday night game you won't likely have the luxury of a game-time decision. Then there's the matchup: while the Steelers have allowed three 100-yard receivers this season, that's one more than the number of WR TDs they've allowed. Like Portis, it's a tough matchup that requires you to lower the bar if you plan to keep your stud in the lineup. Unfortunately, the only comparably ranked defense Moss has faced—Philadelphia, ranked two spots above the Steelers—held Santana without a catch. I'm hesitant to bench a stud, and Moss is one spin move away from taking a two-yard out to the house, but the combination of his balky hamstring and this matchup puts that hesitation to a serious test.

WR Antwaan Randle El

The Skins probably have some funky reverse pass concocted for Randle El to unleash on his former mates. And you have to think his former mates will be expecting it. That's about all there is in this matchup to pin your hopes on; if there's barely enough in this passing game to make Moss a borderline starter, the secondary receivers have to be bench fodder.

TE Chris Cooley S3

You can actually make a solid case for Cooley in a TE-mandatory league. First, he's been targeted at least six times in every game since seeing just one ball in the season opener, so he's getting chances. Next, the Steelers have surrendered TE TDs in three of the past four games—and the one shutout was Cincinnati, who doesn't even use a tight end so really shouldn't count. That might be as good as you get in this defensive tussle.

DT Redskins S3 This one has as low an O/U number as any on the board, so if your league's defensive scoring leans heavily on points allowed and such you could do worse than the Skins.

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